The second-year quarterback has been working hard to develop his skills and leadership ability, which is why the team passed on Matt Schaub.
Atlanta sent backup quarterback Matt Schaub to Houston in a swap of first-round draft positions (the Falcons got the eighth pick, the Texans took the 10th spot), plus the Falcons get the Texans' second-round picks in 2007 and 2008.
There had been rumors that the Vikings were interested in Schaub, but the team denies ever making a move for him.
For those who question whether Tarvaris Jackson, a second-round draft choice last year, can do the job at quarterback this year, Vikings coach Brad Childress said he believes Jackson can do the job as well as Schaub, for whom the Texans paid a big price. Along with the draft picks, Schaub signed a six-year deal paying $48 million. That compares to Jackson's four-year deal reportedly worth about $2.8 million.
"[Jackson] is as experienced as a guy like Matt Schaub, who's had two starts," Childress said. "It seems like the fashionable thing to talk about him and where he was drafted. So, I like [Jackson] every bit as well as that guy, and the experience comes. You can't put a premium on experience. But what [Jackson's] doing is attempting with his work and his film study and his on-the-field with our guys is to eliminate all those [flaws] that he can eliminate -- all those unknowns that he can eliminate."[Jackson's] done a great job of leading this offseason program, and certainly that doesn't take anything away from [backup quarterbacks] Brooks Bollinger or Drew Henson, who have been there," said Childress. "But all those receivers have been there day in and day out. Every one of those tight ends, the running backs, and so you have to have somebody that's kind of the straw that stirs the drink. You have to have somebody that's there getting those guys out in those groups, and Tarvaris has been there front and center all the way along -- and I just believe it's going to pay dividends as we go forward.
"Yeah, they'll all be in competition, and I'm not opposed to keeping two quarterbacks on the active roster. ... So, we'll just see how that thing shakes out. I like what I've seen from [seventh-round draft pick] Tyler Thigpen so far, though."
ESPN.com NFL writer Len Pasquarelli visited recently with Jackson, and the quarterback described how things have changed at practice from last year. Quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers was looking for somebody to throw to the receivers the other day, and barked "You go!" to Thigpen, the lowest-ranking quarterback on the field.
"I was thinking, 'You know a year ago that would have been me they sent to throw to those guys,' and it's true," said Jackson who started only the final two games last season and is the favorite to win the starting job. "When you are the bottom guy, those are the kinds of things you have to do. But that one thing right there, as small as it was, shows progress, right?
"To come from a small school like I did, not expecting to be drafted until maybe the third round or even later, it's been good," Jackson told Pasquarelli. "I've still got a long ways to go, and I don't ever take anything for granted ... but I feel pretty good now about where I'm at."
Because he is ranked as the Vikings starter, Jackson had been invited to compete in the NFL Quarterback Challenge to be held in the Cayman Islands. This was going to be a big moment for Jackson to be in the company of all of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL. But there was a snag with his passport and he will have to wait for another time.
The Big Ten's Administrators Council (athletic directors and senior women administrators) have voted to increase the number of conference basketball games from 16 to 18 starting this season, pending approval of the university presidents. Under the new schedule, each school will play eight conference foes twice and the other two once.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, scouting director Mike Radcliff and 10 scouts are in Fort Myers, Fla., this week working on the coming amateur baseball draft and working out some of the top Florida players plus some others who were drafted by the Twins in the 2006 draft and have not signed. ... The target for getting Twins catcher Joe Mauer healthy and ready to play is for the opening of the Toronto series at the Dome on Friday. You want my guess? Mauer won't be ready until a week later than that. ... Speaking of the Blue Jays, they are the Eastern Division team that will play seven games against the Twins at the Metrodome -- not the Yankees, not the Red Sox, but a team that won't draw any better than the Devil Rays. ... One thing the Twins liked about Garrett Jones is that, once he was sent back to Class AAA Rochester after playing four games with the Twins, he didn't dawdle getting back to the Red Wings, reporting immediately when optioned back to the minors. Look for him to be recalled in the future.
The Twins recently launched the process of selecting the concessionaire partner for the new downtown Minneapolis ballpark, with hopes of finalizing that selection this year. Among the firms expected to bid are Centerplate, Aramark, Sports Service and Levy Restaurants. ... The Twins, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority have targeted Aug. 2 as the tentative date for the official new stadium's groundbreaking ceremony.
Like the Twins, the Rochester Red Wings have been in a slump, losing 12 of their past 17 games to drop only three games over .500 for the first time since April 21.
One Viking who is optimistic that defensive end Erasmus James, who had knee surgery twice, will return to action this year is linebacker Chad Greenway, who also had knee surgery and has been rehabbing with the No. 1 draft choice from Wisconsin. "After his surgery, we were rehabbing basically the same time every day together," said Greenway. "So, we've been through it, the hard parts together, but he had to go back in and have that little extra surgery which slowed him down a little bit. But I know he's feeling a lot better now, and he's looking forward to getting back for training camp. Absolutely, I think with the will he has and the type of person he is, I have no doubt that he'll be back."
Receiver Deion Walker from Christchurch, Va., got interested in Minnesota because his dad, Art, coached former Gophers basketball standout Vincent Grier, and Grier told his old coach how much he enjoyed attending school here. The Gophers football staff normally doesn't recruit the East Coast, but the coach sent a tape that impressed the Gophers staff and, according to one recruiting service, offered Walker a scholarship.
|Minnesota||0||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Cincinnati||0||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Los Angeles||3||Top 2nd Inning|
|Oakland - J. Parker||1:05 PM|
|Texas - R. Wolf|
|Arizona - T. Cahill||2:10 PM|
|Colorado - J. De La Rosa|
|Washington - G. Gonzalez||2:45 PM|
|San Francisco - M. Bumgarner|
|Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson||3:37 PM|
|Toronto - M. Buehrle|
|Chicago Cubs - J. Samardzija||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - F. Liriano|
|Detroit - J. Verlander||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - U. Jimenez|
|NY Yankees - H. Kuroda||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - J. Hammel|
|Seattle - B. Maurer||6:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Wilson|
|Philadelphia - C. Lee||6:10 PM|
|Miami - K. Slowey|
|Boston - C. Buchholz||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - H. Santiago|
|Kansas City - J. Shields||7:10 PM|
|Houston - J. Lyles|
|St. Louis - T. Lyons||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - B. Smith|